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    #1

    Question must vs. must have been

    Hi,

    I'm completely confused as to how to use must and must have been. Here are sample sentences: The mail must be lost in the mail. VS. The mail must have been lost in the mail. Are both of these grammatically correct and they both apply to something that is thought to be lost in the mail? Please provide me with some clarification on this. Your help is greatly appreciated.

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    #2

    Exclamation Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by unruly2009 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm completely confused as to how to use must and must have been. Here are sample sentences: The mail must be lost in the mail. VS. The mail must have been lost in the mail. Are both of these grammatically correct and they both apply to something that is thought to be lost in the mail? Please provide me with some clarification on this. Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Both are grammatically correct. As you know "must" is a modal verb expressing probability.
    The mail must be lost in the mail. Means: there is a greater chance for the mail to be lost completey. Here "must" expresses degrees of probability or percentage ... say there is 60% chance of the mail being lost in the mail.
    The mail must have been lost in the mail. It shows probability of the loss of a situation or thing that has happened in the past.
    Last edited by sarat_106; 16-Jun-2009 at 07:17.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by unruly2009 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm completely confused as to how to use must and must have been. Here are sample sentences: The mail must be lost in the mail. VS. The mail must have been lost in the mail. Are both of these grammatically correct and they both apply to something that is thought to be lost in the mail? Please provide me with some clarification on this. Your help is greatly appreciated.
    The mail must be lost in the mail. Let's change the first 'mail' to 'letter' for clarity.
    The letter must be lost in the mail. Here "lost" is an adjective, based on the past participle. This sentence is in the present tense.It describes the current state of the letter.
    The letter must be lost.
    ~ It must be a lost letter.

    The letter must have been lost in the mail.
    'lost' here is a verb. The sentence is in the present perfect tense. It states what must have happened.

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    #4

    Re: must vs. must have been

    [quote=Raymott;484162]The letter must be lost in the mail. Here "lost" is an adjective, based on the past participle. This sentence is in the present tense.It describes the current state of the letter.
    I though "lost" is a passive verb here. It seems to me that the speaker hope or believe that the letter would be lost.
    But you said "lost" is adjective.

    It must be a lost letter.
    I've got a letter which, I suppose, might be a lost letter.
    Can't understand why you put ~ between them.

    Could you clarify it to me, please?

    Thank you!

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: must vs. must have been

    [quote=greegorush;484176]
    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    The letter must be lost in the mail. Here "lost" is an adjective, based on the past participle. This sentence is in the present tense.It describes the current state of the letter.
    I though "lost" is a passive verb here. It seems to me that the speaker hope or believe that the letter would be lost.
    But you said "lost" is adjective.

    Yes, it's the passive form of the present perfect tense in the second sentence. I should have mentioned that.
    The parsing has to be done in a pragmatic context. For example, compare these:
    The letter must be found. This would generally mean: We must find the letter.
    The letter must be lost. This would generally mean: It seems that the letter is lost, or something similar. It doesn't mean: We must lose the letter in the mail.
    So, two seemingly obviously cognate sentences have different meanings.

    If a letter is lost (adjective), it must have been lost (verb).

    It must be a lost letter.
    I've got a letter which, I suppose, might be a lost letter.
    Can't understand why you put ~ between them.
    The ~ means that the second phrase doesn't mean exactly the same as the first. The second phrase is illustrative.

    Could you clarify it to me, please?

    Thank you!
    R.

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    #6

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Once more, if you would not mind.

    Now I don't see the difference between must be and must have been in this case.

    The letter must be lost. Better to say then - Perhaps (There's a great possibility) the letter is lost.
    Or not?

    When you say This would generally mean: It seems that the letter is lost, or something similar then I see no difference between must be lost and must have been lost.

    Thanks again.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by greegorush View Post
    Once more, if you would not mind.

    Now I don't see the difference between must be and must have been in this case.

    The letter must be lost. Better to say then - Perhaps (There's a great possibility) the letter is lost.
    Or not?
    No, it's not better to say that. In context, the meaning of "The letter must be lost" is quite clear.


    When you say This would generally mean: It seems that the letter is lost, or something similar then I see no difference between must be lost and must have been lost.

    Thanks again.
    It seems that you haven't presented anything that I haven't already addressed.
    Maybe another native speaker would like to give an opinion.

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    #8

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by greegorush View Post
    Once more, if you would not mind.

    Now I don't see the difference between must be and must have been in this case.

    The letter must be lost. Better to say then - Perhaps (There's a great possibility) the letter is lost.
    Or not?

    When you say This would generally mean: It seems that the letter is lost, or something similar then I see no difference between must be lost and must have been lost.

    Thanks again.
    "Must be lost" means it is gone, it's lost, it is not here, no-one knows where it is. "Must have been lost" could mean it is here now but it arrived very late. In this case the present perfect leaves open the possibility that it has been or will be found.

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    #9

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It seems that you haven't presented anything that I haven't already addressed.
    Maybe another native speaker would like to give an opinion.
    All I've got is:

    The letter must be found - found is a verb.
    The letter must be lost - lost is an adjective.

    And I missed this phrase If a letter is lost (adjective), it must have been lost (verb).

    OK. When I think of it now it seems quite understandable. Just one thing:
    I'm not sure what means must in there.

    You must be tired. Tired is an adjective here. Is this the same using of must?

    Thank you for patience!

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    #10

    Re: must vs. must have been

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Must be lost" means it is gone, it's lost, it is not here, no-one knows where it is. "Must have been lost" could mean it is here now but it arrived very late. In this case the present perfect leaves open the possibility that it has been or will be found.
    Then I don't understand the meaning of must there.
    The letter is lost. This sentence has the accurate meaning.
    The letter must be lost. What does must add to the sentence? Is not it better to say the letter is lost?

    Thank you very much!

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